Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 27, 2009 11:00am-12:00pm EST

11:00 am
>> it turned out to be minneapolis, and i'm very happy and proud to be here and to see all of you. i want to speak rather briefly just for 20 or 25 minutes, and schedule little bit about the book that can referred to, "the future of faith," because i
11:01 am
really look forward to the period in which you can ask your questions or for sure criticisms, and we can have a back and forth among us here, and for the instruction and entertainment of those in the radio audience. there are three main points in the "the future of faith" which you will pick out. i simply ask myself, what can we say about the future fate, the the future of religion, christianity in particular as we look down the long quarter of the 21st century. first of all, i have to warn you, be very, very careful of anybody who makes predictions about anything. stock market, or religion, especially beware of me, i firmly predicted that the red sox would win the pennant and the world series. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you, thank you. is always next year, for another
11:02 am
red sox world series victory. i think it is a really long hard ordeal in the 21st century. but we are used to waiting for these kinds of things. the three main theses of this book are as follows. first of all, despite all the predictions which were being made all around me and all around many of you here, when i first started my teaching which was half a century ago now, predictions that religion was at a state of decline andy kay, marginalization, that the rise of technology and literacy and all of that would make religion an insignificant factor in human life. it would certainly no longer have an influence in the public theater. it would certainly not had any power to shape cultures anywhere. it might be preserved in small
11:03 am
family enclaves, or an old wives tales and so on. but that's pretty much the picture that was being painted. that wasn't so long ago. well, whatever else happened, that prediction is one of the most mistaken ones on record. that did not happen in the past five decades. rather, what happened was the rather unexpected global resurgence of religion in almost all of the religious traditions of the world, all around the globe. i quickly add for bangor for blessing, because if you have studied religion as long as i have, which is pretty long now, you'll know that when there is a religious revival or renaissance, it's good news and it can also be bad news. because religion can inspire compassion, tenderness, solidarity with those who are in pain. religion can also inspire
11:04 am
hatred, the victory all, seen a phobia, as one of my friends, there are people who are willing to die for their faith and there are people who are willing to kill for the faith. so we are handling a very potent force here. and it's going to be around for a while. that's the first major thesis. those of us who are practicing christians, as im, are practicing and some other, taking series of some other tradition, will be living in a time in which the new sorting out of these various religion traditions, how they relate to each other, how they relate to the common human future, will be the task that we have. that's the first point. the second point in the book is that one of the reasons why the fundamental mistake was made by so many knowledgeable people
11:05 am
have a century ago about the decline and disappearance and marginalization of religion was to think. first, over estimating the benefits of what was hailed as the modern age, or mow dirty. which was alleged when i was a youth, was going to solve just about everything. technology, democracy, literacy, science, was going to lay to rest the animosities, maybe even the diseases and we're going to move into a really brave and wonderful new world. called the modern world. well, that didn't happen either. as the sad, sad history of the 20th century, perhaps the most violent century on human record, we can look back on. that did not happen. also, i think those prognosticators did not foresee,
11:06 am
weren't aware, of the ability, capability of religions to transform themselves, to draw on their inner substance, their core convictions, but still a just to changes in the world, which they have done over many, many centuries, and indeed many millennia. are religious have an uncanny capacity to do this. we are witnessing that right now. so the second point of the book is this one. that we are now witnessing, not just the renaissance religious traditions, but a fundamental change in the nature of religious nests. what i call religiousness. what it needs to be a religious person. indeed, what it means to be a christian religious person in particular. know what i mean by that is when
11:07 am
i look at christianity or judaism, or hinduism, or islam or buddhism, and i feel increasingly has been comparative religion because i think we learned a lot that can help us in our own traditions as we know these other tradition that as i look around, i see changes that are similar in each of the major religious traditions. i just want to mention a few, and we may come back to them. the first is what i call the experience terms. more and more people now seem to be interested in a direct encounter with god, with the spirit, with the divine, with the sacred. something experience. something they can put their teaching, something they can touch. and are less and less willing, simply to accept religious teachings on the authority of someone else.
11:08 am
because it says so in a book or because of bishop or a pastor or someone else says it. so if you look around this experience, which also to some extent means a deterrent away from, away from an emphasis on doctrine and dogma, or an emphasis on hierarchy and organization. it's a shift, and i see it everywhere. in all of the traditions that i have just made, it's amazing how global this whole underlying change in the nature of religiousness is. think of one example, for example, in christianity in our own, my own traditions are the fastest-growing way of christianity today is what is called pentecostal charismatic movement, growing especially rapidly in latin america, and asia, in africa.
11:09 am
even in china, in mainland china. and this is an expression of christianity in which the direct experience of the spirit often expressed in a very open and explicit way, with movement, with dancing, with shouting, is the mode of worship, healing is a very important part to. that's growing very rapidly. there are said to be now about 2 billion christians in the world. i think demographers tell us of home about half, 1 billion, are roman catholics. and the other half are now getting to be more or less evenly divided between the growing pentecostal charismatic movement, and all the rest of us garden-variety presbyterians and
11:10 am
baptists and lutherans, and i guess especially lutherans in this part of the world. we share our -- with the pentecostal movement. i'd like to see more about that if you would likelier. i wrote a whole book which i think tim mentioned, it's called fire from heaven, about the pentecostal movement, which i think in many ways gets a bad press that and is misunderstood by a lot of mainline christians, catholics and protestants, which i was trying to understand myself a little bit better. the other change in the nature of religiousness, i'm still on the second point here, is what i call the movement from a high wall conception of the relationship between religious traditions and a more porous, open relationship between, let's
11:11 am
say, christianity and even hinduism or hinduism and islam, are christianity and buddhism, or judaism. the poorest is is beginning to become evident where everyone almost wherever anyone looks. someone told me about, somebody was talking to the other day day, interviewing some roman catholic woman who went to mass every week, but also went -- love to go to a black church and sing gospel songs. she went to a yoga class on friday afternoons, and she had a book by the dalai lama on her book table next to her bed. she is doing what some people call building a repertoire. [laughter] >> that is, thinking of these various traditions, not as close, encased, but as
11:12 am
interacting with each other, as indeed they have throughout all of the aged. what would christianity be without interaction with judaism? what would buddhism be without its interaction with hinduism? all of the reds, islam, and all this interaction. we have often been told, wrongly, that these are all the isolated traditions in which we shouldn't -- we should be careful about what we do with each other, or borrowing from each other. i sometimes attend a synagogue in boston, and i've noticed that the rabbi there has introduced into the worship there at the synagogue what are quite evidently buddhist elements. so for example, when they say they shalom greeting, he tells them he doesn't want to say, that would be a little too much
11:13 am
perhaps. he says now join and we are going to say shalom. he holds that out. [laughter] >> you don't have to be a phd in religion do know that that's something of a borrowing. this is going on across the board. and i think it's a good sign. also, another major change that i see in the nature of religiousness is that the focus moving from a preparation for some of the world, although that's not completely forgotten, how one lives one's life in this world, how one makes it better. how one moves it in jesus turns toward something like a kingdom of healing and justice of reconciliation, a kingdom of god. that is a whole focus and i could document its analogy in
11:14 am
the other traditions as well. now finally, the third point of the book, and i want to make this very briefly, is i think because of the changing nature of what it means to be religious, what it means to be christian in particular, what we call fundamentalism, is declining and will continue to decline. and it will not be a major player in the religious scene very much longer, although it may take a very long time. now i use the term which was originally american protestant term. the fundamentals which are cobbled together by a group of ultraconservative american protestant back in 1910. they had a list of nonnegotiable beliefs that you simply had to subscribe to if you're going to be -- call yourself a christian.
11:15 am
and the keystone, cornerstone, of all of those beliefs was of course, the inerrancy of every syllable in the bible, whether it had to do with paleontology or cosmology or history or whatever. the verbal inerrancy of scripture, that's really what fundamentalism means that however, the term was then taken and applied sometimes a little bit too broadly to movements in other religions. for example, the jewish settlers on the west bank who are one of the major obstacles to peace in the middle east now, who claim that the bible, indeed, it's the book of joshua, tells them that they should be conquering and settling all of the land which god gave their forefathers, and they are insisting on the actual proof of this. the islamic movement, which the
11:16 am
so-called -- muslim fundamentalist movements are very badly missed name. nonetheless, they are also, i am claiming here, on good evidence i think, in decline. and we have to be aware of that. that our major -- the major opposition, for example, in afghanistan, we know from those on the spot and you have a speaker coming in this series i think on afghanistan, the major opposition there, the insurgents, are not religiously motivated. they are motivated by a deep distrust of foreigners, occupiers in their own land. and have managed to get rid of all these occupiers and foreigners as far back as the persians and the british, the russians. and here we are, walking into the same trap. anti-sealing ourselves by
11:17 am
thinking that we're fighting people people who are basically motivated by their religion. most of them are not. most of them are tribalists or nationalist, and we should make that kind of confusion. so there are the major point of the book. boy, oh, boy. why did it take these so long to write that book? when i said it in 23 minutes. [laughter] >> i should have had a stenographer perhaps. writing it all down. but that's it. christianity, i think, is numbered into one of the most interesting, exciting phases in its 2000 year history. a couple of things have contributed to that. one, very basic one is that christianity is no longer a western religion. somewhere around 1951 or 1952, the majority of christians in the world began to be those in
11:18 am
africa, asia and latin america. so most of the christians in the world don't look very much like us. there of a darker color, and most of them are not -- they are all prosperous, the whole nature, the whole complex -- complexion of christianity is changing, and what we are discovering as we watch and monitor does knew the emerging christianity and the rest of the world is how central the figure of jesus is, how utterly centered, and how marginal the western doctrinal development is. this is something that happened in the western church, and never really happened with that kind of impact in the asian or african or indian or latin american church. so the movement that i've talked about here and the movement away from a focus on talking,
11:19 am
especially experience with reference to the life, death, resurrection and kingdom of god, that jesus represents them is what is central in all these other expressions of christiana to all around the world. the other thing that has happened, and this has happened more or less in the scholarly realm but it is beginning to find its way out into the pews and the awareness of many lay christians, is what we discovered about early christianity from the sensational finds of documents and text like in egypt a few years ago. what we discover is that christianity in its early decades was enormously variegated. there were all kinds of different ways of organizing congregations that there were different theologies. there was not a common creed for 300 years.
11:20 am
there certainly wasn't any hierarchy. there was a -- variety was blooming, and it wasn't until constantine came along in the early three hundreds and decided to pull everything together, imposed a creed, and make sure that those who didn't subscribe to it were cast out into the darkness. it wasn't until that centralization and imperial centralization occurred. we are still suffering. we are still suffering from that very negative term, but we don't have to. we now know that the earliest and most vigorous spirit of christianity was one in which there were a thousand flowers blooming. so there you have it. very rapidly stated. religion will be with us, one way or another, for as long as we will be around, as long as humans being have to cope with the great mystery. when we came from, where we're going, what we are doing.
11:21 am
as long as there is a vision of a possible different world, what martin luther king called the beloved community in which healing and a quality and peace, tenderness woodgrain. as long as that vision is still there, will -- religion will continue. religions will continue. that with the underlying nature, what it means to be religious is changing, and will continue to change, still anchored to that core. in the case of christianity, to jesus christ. still anchored to that core, flowering and all different kinds of directions. and that will continue as well. but what we call fundamentalism is on the way out, not -- but i think it is declining.
11:22 am
it is a currently fractious. people fight with each other over very minor points. it has a very hard time coping with the kind of pluralism of religious and ideological worldviews that we have to cope with now every day. and so i think the sun is setting. so there you have it, friends. thank you very much for coming out here to westminster presbyterian church. i am delighted to be here. and i look forward to your questions. and by the way, if you want to voice a reputation, you don't have to disguise it as a question. [laughter] smack just make it a rebuttal. and i really loved rebuttals. i have spent my life dealing with them with my students. i really like that that, so let them fly. thank you. [applause]
11:23 am
>> thank you, harvey cox. you are listening to the westminster townhall forum broadcast live from westminster presbyterian church in downtown minneapolis. i am the senior minister of the westminster presbyterian church, and moderator of the four. our speaker today is theologian and author, harvey cox. while the ushers collect questions from in house audience at westminster, i would like to invite you to join us for our next forum in two weeks on thursday, november 19, when activist and entrepreneur sarah chase will offer an in depth look inside afghanistan. further information is available online at westminster townhall forum.org. that's one word, westminster townhall forum.org. and now harvey cox, if you would return to the pulpit, i will present questions from our
11:24 am
audience. professor cox, in your book you describe and name three great ages of religion. and i wonder if you might apply those -- named as an discuss those busy but apply them to other faith traditions. as well as christianity. >> i make a distinction in the future of faith between belief and faith. i think it's a very important distinction to make. believe is related to the word u.s.-india, giving assent to subscribing to. faith is related, faithfulness, loyalty. believe has to do with one's attitude toward ideas, doctrines, as something that
11:25 am
you're not sure of, i don't know whether that's two or not, but i believe it may be. where as faith is something very central, very primal. it has to do with the direction of your life. that to which you are ultimately loyal. your sense of direction. so i make that distinction here and when i look back over christian history, i would say that for the first three centuries that i referred to, christianity was living in what i would call an age of faith. being a christian meant being a follower of jesus. it meant being part of his people. it meant working and praying for the coming of his kingdom of shalom. that's what it was about. until the imposition of constantine, constantine in form
11:26 am
of christianity which didn't catch everybody. there were a lot of people who escape that net by the way. thank heavens, there were many of them. well, throughout the constantine period which went on for centuries. i call that the age of belief, because that's a period in which being a christian meant subscribing to a creed. that's what constantine did to christianity. and in my view, very damaging. here's the creed. his own accord theologian wrote it. he did know very much about theology. by his own court theologian wrote this great that everybody had to subscribe to it. the few bishops at the council where was adopted at his summer palace where he whines and dying the bishops, the ones who wouldn't sign on the dotted line simply set out into the hinterlands can something like
11:27 am
maybe north dakota. [laughter] >> no offense. i guess we're reaching north dakota. i understand it's lovely in north dakota. [laughter] >> so this period of what i called the age of belief, we had a hard time getting through that. there was created after creed after creed. when i was in the seminary we had whole books of these, one creed displacing another greed tree, creed fighting each other, people being killed and burned because they didn't subscribe to this creed or that creed. i think we're now coming into a period that diebold called the age of the spirit, in which these definitions, what it means to be a christian are passing away. not gone yet, surely. but are passing away. and we're beginning to understand that what links us to each other, both as christians
11:28 am
and with people of faith, and other religious traditions, is something like what we christians call the spirit. the reconciling spirit, the healing spirit, the unifying spirit, the holy spirit. that's what we call it. i note that a fairly daring thing, and i don't want to have that confused with some kind of new age definition. but i think we are entering a very radical new stage of christianity, and i see this, and analogy to this end, for example, judaism, and islam, certainly in buddhism. i have -- my next book which will be coming out in english, it's already griscom is a dialog with a buddhist scholar. we had a transoceanic dialogue. i would say something and he would say something, and wonder what you can do with the electronic media you can do
11:29 am
these days. back and forth, and we collected this dialogue as being published in a book, christian buddhist dialogue. i was amazed at the similar -- japanese buddhism away from priestly hierarchies, away from campus is on buddhist doctrines into what does it mean to live out compassion, which is the central element in buddhism in the world with your neighbor, in the political economic structures of the world. some people are beginning to call it buddhist humanism. that may be a good term. but it's a move which has its analogy, what i have described in christianity as well. people of various faiths don't believe the same things. they follow what they feel are different truths from other religious traditions.
11:30 am
but is there a common currency to faith? yeah, you know, i think the common currency is that we all need that central, primal underlying sense of direction of value, of meaning, what my grade teacher called one's ultimate concern. those who don't have that are really not human. if you don't have a sense of -- what would you give your life for? what keeps you going? in the roughest times. we all have something like that, so we have something like a capacity for faith. . .
11:31 am
how to be in touch with the sick thrifts, without all of the packaging in scaffolding within which it has been traditionally delivered to us. that is the quest that we all seem to have and i think it is universal. >> so you agree with the narrow scientists that leave people are hardwired for religion? >> i don't know what this hardwiring means, but i suppose so yes. i have a colleague at harvard
11:32 am
who works were this kind of a brain analysis and thinks there is this kind of a capacity for four or even a youth for this kind of an sense of direction and the yen value in that emerges, on an evolutionary scale, as a figure many merchants. it is coexisting -- with the emergence of what it means to be human is two beef let's say a faith capable preacher. one who can imagine the different features, one who lives by emeritus and stories, and one who needs this kind of ultimate direction or concern. i think it is their. >> in light of your description of the current age of a speed 10 the to do about christianity, any comments about the roman catholicism direction particularly of the current pope and we have five questions by my
11:33 am
count about the pope's overture to the anglicans. comments? [laughter] >> i think we see what i describe as if a change in the nature of religious message being played out in a very dramatic way in this oldest and most venerable of christian churches, the roman catholic church. for example, when the history of 20th-century christianity is written, 20th-century catholicism is written, i think some of the major figures are going to be pope john the 23rd and, who called the second vatican council and really asked the leaders of the entire church around the world to make the changes in the church which would make it possible to voice of the gospel in a credible way
11:34 am
given the changes that he saw were going on from a very wise old man. another figure that will be remembered i think it already is a significant one is thomas merton, the great roman catholic benedictine trappist contemplative and writer who you may recall died in a buddhist monastery in thailand. where he was praying in meditating with the buddhist monks and you kept telling us in his final works that when you go deeper into the spiritual wealth at the hard to of any of christianity or buddhism and then the waters begin to flow together. he was convinced of that. the other one i have to say -- to more coming talking about the catholic church -- one is dorothy day founder of the
11:35 am
catholic worker movement who of all the people of the 20th-century perhaps lived more of a crisis like existence, of living down in the lower east side of new york with the hungry and homeless and the unemployed in simply being fair with them -- to being there with them, sheltering them, listening to them, inspiring them and the other, of course, is archbishop romero, perhaps the single emblematic figure of liberation theology who started it is a very very conservative, holdrun conservative catholic priest and because of the suffering of his people in el salvador lead the way toward a new understanding of catholic christianity's, liberated quarter. in the standing on the side and what they called the
11:36 am
preferential option for the poor, for those who have been left out and the losers in life. which i still think is most important of all the theological and tendencies of the 20th-century whether catholic for non-catholics. now, just a word or two about pope benedict xvi. i think benedict really has the idea that he needs to circle the wagons and make the catholic church something which is defendable and clear, not suffering any kind of losses around the edges, but you have to remember that benedict came into his role as the pope with a very serious series of crises on his hands. when he looked around from his palace there on the tiber at the
11:37 am
catholic church around the world, he looked at europe and virtually gave up on it and said europe is gone in secularization, not much that can be done. he looked back to south america where he saw a hemorrhaging of roman catholics into evangelical protestants and pentecostal churches and the ones who were staying in the catholic church were embracing of liberation theology, something he wasn't too fond of either, so that, didn't look too well. he looked at america and saw catholics organizing lay groups and demanding some kind of voice in their church here. that was in something that he could stomach too easily. so looking all around the world it didn't look like a particularly promising future for the catholic church. he had to make a decision in the decision he apparently has made it which i wish he had not,
11:38 am
however, is a kind of circling of the wagons and a clamping down. also apparently an effort to rally in to the catholic church elements in other churches who would agree with this meador this tactic, this tactic of circling the christian wagons against all of the antagonists and i think that probably had to do the invitation to disgruntled and anglicans to come into a kind of side door and into the catholic church. i don't think very many will do that. even suppose a million do, when vetted it is heading a church that has a billion people a million doesn't even amount to one-tenth of 100 of 1 percent --
11:39 am
it's not very much. so maybe it is a signal also from pope benedict xvi to those within his own church that he is going to hang tough. it isn't going to put up with any kind of softening of the line. now, i think that that tactic is self-defeating and that we will see a major changes in the catholic church in that it could well be that those few anglicans who do decide to come in i thought why not open the door to southern baptists. [laughter] why not the missouri synod lutherans. let's get them all together. by remember -- remember the priests and bishops from the anglican church to come in our married -- they are married and will continue to be married and
11:40 am
will therefore introduce the possibility into the catholic church of a married priesthood in which a lot of people have been waiting around for for a very long time. so it may have repercussions that we are not anticipating, but let us wait and see. >> a number of our questioners in the audience raise questions about fundamentalism, let's begin with a question about what is the most essential similarity that the fundamentalists of all religion share with each other? >> well, what might be called a family resemblance. all these movements, first of all, reach back into their own tradition and very, very selectively retrieve some element. it is a scripture, it is a particular ritual, it's a particular time in history, they retrieve that very selectively, bring it to the present and deploy its in some kind of
11:41 am
current argument from a struggle or conflict. they all have that. so for the protestant fundamentalists it was what they believe was a society in which the inherent risk -- scripture range before the kind of changes that they deplored. older conservative catholics are hankering after the return of the latin mass. why? because of the latin mass is unchanging. latin is a dead language therefore it doesn't change from year to year. there is, it's a beautiful language, but it doesn't change. that changed less mess is what is sought to hear. for muslims -- the most radical kind of islamists, talk about this time right after the death of a province called the time of
11:42 am
the rightly guided first four or five colleagues. after which they thought things really went downhill. everything got divided in acrimonious. how can we reinstate this caliphate again in the modern world? to end our divisions among ourselves. you have to remember that the major disputes by far within islam, among muslims, is with each other. we are reminded of that every day as soon ease and shiites continue to throttle into each other. it is only secondarily against those on the outside, the west or anything else, only very secondarily. it continues to be an internal battle and especially sparked by the coming of a kind of an islamic equivalent of fundamentalism. the other thing that happened, and all of them, they all fight
11:43 am
a war on to france. the one front is against what they see it going on in the world around them as they see it come a deteriorating, going downhill. the other, however, it is against their fellow christians or jews or muslims who they see as the betrayed the face. modernists, liberals, equivocate years, all the rest, and to have to be fought tooth and nail so that for example of the original protestant fundamentalists in america directed their fire mainly against other christians and, in fact, against other protestant christians. by the way there were also very very critical a dismissive pentecostal some throughout the early history of american fundamentalism. they thought the pentecostal swear really a terrible threat. why?
11:44 am
because the pentecostal stock to drop this direct experience of god and mediated coming right into your heart. where as the fundamentalists insisted that god can only speak to this inherent scriptural ward pentecostal seem to be getting it wholesale. [laughter] they wanted it to be retailed. and when doing ibook on pentecostal i saw one article by a presbyterian fundamentalists, there were some in those days. [laughter] to refer to the pentecostal as the last of bonnet of satan. i have often thought, people really knew how to talk to each other in those days. [laughter] and they are soft in their faith and ecumenical, ironic age. but they used to really pull out the big towns so you can see there wasn't any patience with the pentecostal see there.
11:45 am
there are really strong similarities across the board among these movements, but i think fey are all in their own way in decline and we will look back on them as an interruption in in a far more basic title change in what it means to be religious person or christian. >> several questions about what you see as evidence that fundamentalism is on the decline in the various religious traditions and by the way is it not also true that they shared characteristic of the fundamentalists in various religions is their view of women? >> yes, i'm glad you said that, it sure is. isn't that interesting that at all these movements that i have ticked off here suspicion and even at points hostility toward women, especially women in positions of leadership, it seems to be a common characteristic. that's true. and this is why i think the increasing presence of women in
11:46 am
leadership positions in churches, synagogues, mosques around a world is one of the reasons why, at least that element of the fundamentalist mentality is declining. we have about 400 and muslim students at our university now, by latest count, we don't take a religious sense is but i think that is the estimates and they have a prayer service every friday. i attended sometimes with some of my students. they always insist that the women muslim students should lead the prayers along with the men. and we find that some recent arrivals from saudi arabia students studying are a little from by this at first. they have never seen this in their lives of, but they do just to let and we hope that they'll learn something from.
11:47 am
also by the way sunni's, shia, they all were shipped together in this friday prayer service. what about this evidence of decline? well, i mentioned something recently about the taliban. we have to be very careful when talking about the taliban -- that is a word that this refers to a wide variety of to and groups in afghanistan. it simply means students, taliban mean students. and although a small group of them are motivated by a radical kind of islamist jihad and ideology, the vast majority are not. we have made some very serious mistakes i think in dealing with the afghans by inhibiting so much of their hostility toward outsiders, foreigners and others, especially occupying
11:48 am
armies, to a religious motivation when it's really not. i said something about that earlier today. but the most recent reports from afghanistan and you'll hear them if you come to this lecture in that time -- next time, that the group within the taliban motivated by jihad ideology is declining and is viewed more and more by afghans is really not trustworthy. these people are capable of killing but they don't seem to be capable of providing jobs for employment or health care so there are less and less trusted by the general populace. also the other branches of it which are more concerned with a spelling foreigners and outsiders -- expelling military occupiers, still have a good deal of confidence and also the people understand them to be a least honest or many of them
11:49 am
proceeded their own government to be incompetent and corrupt. there is a new book by the way by a woman named dr. audrey crewman, she teaches at the national war college, a book called how terrorism and said. and she writes, al qaeda is in the process of imploding. that is not necessarily the end, but the trends are in in that direction. another bit of evidence says, why is it to that is called the fundamentalist clerics in charge of it iran have taken into beating up and torturing, arresting and killing their own young people unless they feel a little shaky, unless they feel that they don't have the
11:50 am
confidence of the people. wherever one looks, the christian coalition, pretty much in shambles now, everybody here remembers the moral majority, the powerful force that jerry falwell may he rest in peace -- >> i'm going to end on that cheerful note and cut in there. [laughter] thank you, professor harvey cox for your visit here. >> harvey cox is author of the "the feast of fools", "the seduction of the spirit", and "when jesus came to harvard". reverend harvey cox retired from harvard divinity school where he taught since 1965. he is a baptist minister and has been a visiting professor at brandeis university, seminario bautista de mexico, naropa institute, and university of michigan. for more information visit to hd s harvard.edu. >> the first issue want to take up is the issue of who did miles
11:51 am
in a really impresses me for a number of reasons. mainly because i have been shocked and how quickly it has become an easy proxy for the curb and footprints over food. i think a lot of consumers, a lot of ethical consumers to do very quickly assess the distance our food has traveled with the environmental impact of that food and closer and closer a look at the problem of food and miles turns out to be in a lot of ways the least of our concerns. in a number of reasons led me to think this. , led me to think that there were problems with giving too much priority to food miles and the distance our food travels to get from farm to plate. one is i have noted in i noted in the book, paying attention, in giving enough credence to the imperatives advantage.
11:52 am
there are places in the country, there are places in the world that are simply more conducive to producing lots of fruits and vegetables than other places. and in the united states this is particularly true. i would urge you to look at water stress map, a map of water stress regions in the united states, if you look a map like that and you're less quickly there are certain places where there is a natural advantage in comparative it managed to produce a loss of crops with minimal water input because of the water is already there. and i think a focus on a food miles for gets this point and forgets the fact that we can produce food in places where perhaps it should be produced, were natural conditions are conducive to producing that food and then shifted to other places. and the shipping is really quite
11:53 am
small factor next to the cost for the small cost of the water. of course, right now we are doing it all wrong. we are getting all of our food from california. and, of course, california is essentially a desert, gets all its water from elsewhere. that's really not the way to do it to me and comparative advantage is something i think food miles does not pay attention to end i think it is something that we should pay attention to. another factor that i think food miles does not really take into consideration is the economy of scale. every now and then i am guilty of thinking like a capitalist and the economy of scale strikes me as an important concept when talking about global food production. something i make a point in the book and something i like to remind people who are skeptical of me being critical of food
11:54 am
miles is 20,000 apples or 2,000 apples let's say traveling by truck to thousand miles from an energy perspective is no different than 20 apples traveling by truck 20 miles. i mean, the important calculation here is a mile per apple and, of course, it is going to be the same for both of them. i have very little love in my heart for industrial agriculture and i don't believe us a good word about it in my book. unfortunately, i think a lot of people who read my book think that i'm somehow embedded industrial agriculture because i'm critical of these ideas. it's simply not true, but one area where i would give industry higher culture a complement is when they need to move something efficiently and cheaply can and so they can take it vanish of
11:55 am
scale economies when there is an incentive for them to do so. so this is again something that i think emphasis on the food miles needs to take into consideration. distance is not always the problem that a lot of the, i don't want to say propaganda, but a lot of the food miles rhetoric would lead you to think. i think more important than the other two and a final point i want to mention about food miles and live critical of food miles in the book is if you're going to focus on the distance food travels there is a chance, i'm not saying everyone thinks this way, but as consumers we can only take on so much and there's a chance that she might not pay as much attention to what really matters i think when it comes to the energy cost of our food. that is production. life cycle assessments which look at the energy use in the production of food at every stage from growing the food to packaging into shipping it
11:56 am
reveals that transportation and as an overall energy costs, transportation, the overall lifestyle is about 10% and so my question is, what is going on with the other 90%? and where are they in efficiencies happening? where is the energy higdon, often in areas of production. one of the things that really frustrates me is it is really ethnically concerned consumers are not taken the time to investigate how are uprooted is produced. let me just give you a couple of examples of how of food miles and an emphasis on food miles can lead to counterintuitive results and there are two studies both which i summarize in my book. one has to do with it lamb. the study which was funded by the new zealand government which certainly has an interesting outcome here, but the study found that in great britain in
11:57 am
made actually more sense energy wise in terms of energy efficiency, it made more sense to purchase your lamb from new zealand environmentally than it did to purchase your lamb locally in the uk. you say, how is that possible? that can be possible with all the traveling across the world. transportation is a matter compared to the fact that the lamb produced in new zealand is produced under natural conditions, it is grass fed lamb. anyone that the land they were comparing it to was produced under confined animal feed lot conditions, industrial conditions. the energy sinkless and a former production, not in the distance land travel. and other examples to meadows. a study showed that if you bought local hothouse tomatoes grown within puts of pete to artificial conditions, if you bought those locally it would actually be 10 times more energy inefficient than if you got
11:58 am
tomatoes that are grown naturally on the other side of the world. these examples are really more than anecdotal. i think they point to a hit in aspect of our food system that we are not paying enough attention to. what i ultimately envision and propose it is somewhat sketchy form in the book is a kind of hope and spoke system for food production, and food transportation when the hub -- to see the hub and spoke maps in airlines were there is a natural comparative advantage to produce that food, with inputs can be the lowest, the energy inputs can be the lowest, produce the food there and then ship it to places efficiently as possible the should be producing the food because they lack the comparative advantage. so it kind of grand system based on the economy to scale comparative advantage and efficient means of production. that is a story i think that if we've just focus on where our food came from a i think we miss
11:59 am
that larger story. >> this was a portion of a booktv program. you can do the entire program and many other booktv programs online. go to booktv.org. type the name of the author were booked into the search area in the upper left-hand corner of the page. select the watched lincoln. now you can do the entire program. you might also explore the recently on the booktv box with a featured video box to find a featured programs. >> coming up next, booktv presents "after words", an hourlong discussion between a guest host and the author of a ne
left
right

85 Views

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on